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Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11
 
 

Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11 [Kindle Edition]

Alistair Darling
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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Review

...one heck of a good read. --Guardian

...a balanced, thoughtful , sober account of arguably the greatest crisis of the 21st Century... --Mail on Sunday

[Alistair Darling] writes compellingly about the market meltdown and ensuing recession, spicing the narrative with a droll wit and acidic observations about the arrogant and stupid bank chiefs. If this story has been told before, it is still informative to have the scary view from the edge of the precipice as Britain teeters on the brink of a complete collapse of its banks. --Observer

Product Description

In the late summer of 2007, shares of Northern Rock went into free-fall, causing a run on the bank - the first in over 150 years. Northern Rock proved to be only the first. Twelve months later, as the world was engulfed in the worst banking crisis for more than a century, one of its largest banks, RBS, came within hours of collapse.

Back from the Brink tells the gripping story of Alistair Darling's one thousand days in Number 11 Downing Street. As Chancellor, he had to avert the collapse of RBS hours before the cash machines would have ceased to function; at the eleventh hour, he stopped Barclays from acquiring Lehman Brothers in order to protect UK taxpayers; he used anti-terror legislation to stop Icelandic banks from withdrawing funds from Britain. From crisis talks in Washington, to dramatic meetings with the titans of international banking, to dealing with the massive political and economic fallout in the UK, Darling places the reader in the rooms where the destinies of millions weighed heavily on the shoulders of a few. His book is also a candid account of life in the Downing Street pressure cooker and his relationship with Gordon Brown during the last years of New Labour.

Back from the Brink is a vivid and immediate depiction of the British government's handling of an unprecedented global financial catastrophe. Alistair Darling's knowledge and understanding provide a unique perspective on the events that rocked international capitalism. It is also a vital historical document.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
118 of 119 people found the following review helpful
By K. Petersen VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Were you to have asked me, prior to reading this book, who was my favourite political biography, I would have replied, Chris Mullin. The reason for that choice was based upon the fact that here was a man who could laugh at himself, as well as others. Mullin has no pomposity and the same can be said of Alistair Darling. The advantage which Darling holds over Mullin is that he held a senior government position (Chancellor of the Exchequer) during a significant historical era (the financial crash of 2008).

It is refreshing to read a political biography in which the main character was not the only person who realised, the exact situation, from day one, and how it should be handled. Alistair Darling is generous with his praise and quick to acknowledge the input of his colleagues, even when they are not bosom buddies.

Reading this book made me realise just how serious the banking crisis had been. One of the great problems with life today, when news is to hand twenty-four hours a day, is that a news programme needs sensation. Everything becomes the most serious crisis that man has ever faced and, naturally, the listener becomes blasé. Darling's book is written in a much more modest style and so, when he paints a picture of near collapse, it is so much more chilling. The section dealing with the banks is more gripping than any financial thriller that one may have read. Darling is honest enough to admit that nobody, himself included, really knew how to deal with events and leads us through the path that he, and Gordon Brown, took to reaching an effective course of action.

Darling is also of great interest when dealing with the Labour Party leadership. He served at close quarters with both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from someone on the inside 8 Sep 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a view of the financial meltdown from a man right at the very heart of it. There are good books that pull together facts from interviews and other sources (I recommend Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street thoroughly), but this view from someone on the inside was what compelled me to read.

Much has been in the media of the relationship with Gordon Brown, and the criticisms Darling has for his boss, but the book contains much more than that. Darling is both frustrated and filled with contempt when the bankers can't quite grasp the situation they are in and the lengths the Government have to go try and clean up their mess. He is lucid about the stress of the situation that he is put under, from the lack of sleep to the strains of dealing with the media and his own people. And yes, he is candid about Gordon Brown's leadership - particularly about the strain of the "election that never was".

Don't get me wrong - I don't particularly like the way this has come out. Couldn't he have said something at the time? Done something different? Had more backbone? I don't know. Suffice to repeat my old Grandad's phrase - "you make your bed, you lie in it". Despite that, I found it to be a good read - I'm not usually into books from politicians but the writing style is good and it flows well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An open and frank account 30 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alistair Darling provides a straightforward and readable digest of his time at number 11 in which he bares all about his experience of working with a difficult, indecisive and paranoid Gordon Brown. Darling comes across as a sober, if sometimes dull, politician whose heart appears to be in the right place and who is keen to do the right thing not just for his party but for people in general. He sets the record staight too about the inheritance he left behind and how Labour have failed to portray how well they dealt with the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. A damn good read with much less of the hubris in evidence that you usually have to put up with from political memoirs.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read 5 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
I've always voted Conservative and have a very low opinion of Labour politicians in general,but must admit to always having regarded Alistair Darling as a thoughtful and conscientious man. His book reinforces that opinion. The period of time this book covers will be talked about by historians for years to come. This book gives a fascinating insight into what went on during this time from a unique insider's view. It is very well written. Technical issues and concepts (eg. moral hazard) are explained for the layman yet without ever appearing to talk down to the reader. The details regarding Gordon Brown's behaviour are a bonus - highlighting how disfunctional that government was and how unsuitable GB was for the top job. Darling emerges with dignity and kudos from these most difficult circumstances.
Maybe a four and a half stars rating is deserved for this book - I can't bring myself to give five stars to any Labour politician when virtually all his collegues deserve a very long spell in opposition!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is certainly part of the motivation for buying this book to get a view from the inside of dealing with the then prime minister Gordon Brown. Darling has taken advantage of this and uses the opportunity to tell us about various events and how he dealt with them.
One gets the impression that he was driven mostly by what his civil servants told him he had to do. His part was to find a meeting point between what his advisors told him and what Brown wanted. This was the root of the tension between the two men: Darling wanted to run his department efficiently according to his own values, while Brown was desperately trying to find something to boost his popularity. This created a leadership vacuum which was filled by the civil service - but leadership is not what they are there to do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Alistair Darling is comfortably occupying the position of least worst...
As of 2014, Alistair Darling is comfortably occupying the position of least worst chancellor of the 21st century and this book, focussing largely on his three years at No. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Etienne Hanratty
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well worth reading for an account of the financial crisis from someone at the heart of it.
Published 21 days ago by Wil Thrower
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Readable.
Published 23 days ago by R. W. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great book to help those of us without a financial background to understand the crisis that got us to where we are now. Read more
Published 24 days ago by J. Rushbrooke
1.0 out of 5 stars Only read as a testament toof the shallowness of politicians.
I bought this as a daily deal and I figured it must be worth it. Now I'm not much into politics but I am an economist and the shallowness with which Alistair approaches and... Read more
Published 27 days ago by DIOMIDES MAVROYIANNIS
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but a bit dull
OK, so the subject might not be the most exciting but I did expect this book to be more interesting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Sarah Killingback
3.0 out of 5 stars Back. From the brink
A solid if not very in depth account of the turmoil following the financial crisis. The best chronicle of the internal machinations within the last Labour govt is still to be... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stephen O'Connor
5.0 out of 5 stars a very good book and easy to read
it gives a true look at the banking crises and the relations between politicians and how it can affect the lives of ordinary people
Published 2 months ago by Anthony Fieldhouse
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and wise book
This is the best informed and most readable book yet written on the financial crisis and the final years of the Labour government. Read more
Published 2 months ago by huey
5.0 out of 5 stars excellnt account
Alistair Darli g has made this an immensely readable account of this period in modern history. Great behind the scenes information on what went on in government at that time.
Published 2 months ago by David Moss
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To state the facts frankly, he said, is not to despair of the future nor to indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those to whom he owes an obligation of trust. The job of elected officials is to face all problems frankly and meet all dangers free from panic or fear. &quote;
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In short, it was a one-way deal: when times are good, get off our backs; when they are bad, you have to help us. &quote;
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Relationships matter in all walks of life, and the lack of relationship between Mervyn King and the bankers had become a real problem. &quote;
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